I am thrilled to have Mitzi and Mike Seals from Mike and Mitzi Ministries as our Friend Friday guests. They have been married for 30 years and have experienced the highs and lows of marriage. Their transparent story of faith, forgiveness, repentance, and restoration will truly inspire you, encourage you, and challenge you. Thru their ministry, Mike and Mitzi lead with passion, authenticity, and a realness that resonates with every day people. It's with great pleasure, we warmly welcome them to our blog today.
“I quit!” “It’s over!” “We’re done!” “Get out!” “I’m leaving!” Tragically, all these phrases are spoken way too often in our marriages today, even in Christian marriages. Why is that? What causes marriages to break down? Why do husbands and wives give up on what God put together?
Before the irreconcilable differences, before the constant yelling and screaming, before the catastrophic affair, before the extreme financial pressures, there is a disease that creeps into our marriages. We have seen as a consistent pattern as we have mentored and counseled couples for nearly 20 years. And it nearly took over our very own.
It is known as the “hardened heart."
You see, before a marriage comes to a screeching and tragic halt, there is a hardening of the heart(s). It usually begins to take place years before the “final straw”. The enemy, Satan, allows this disease to creep into our marriages. It masks itself as “normal” parts of every marriage. Its subtle at first but grows with more regularity and severity. It ultimately can lead to catastrophic failure.
Just as there is with our heart that pumps blood throughout our body, there are signs and symptoms that our hearts are getting hardened. Although the list is long, here are a few that we see often:
1. A Growing “Me” Attitude
This is a selfishness, a “what’s best for me attitude” which begins to set in.
- “My needs aren’t being met.”
- “What’s in it for me?”
- “I’m going to do what’s best for me for once.”
are all attitudes that begin to show signs of a heart problem.
The heart begins to harden in selfish environments.
2. Less and Less Meaningful Conversation
Instead of conversations about
- hopes and dreams,
- how is our marriage doing,
- each other’s needs,
- the future,
- the Lord,
if and when we do converse, it can largely evolve around schedules, tasks, and kids and we miss out on what is really important.
The heart begins to harden if we don’t share our hearts.
3. Physical intimacy becomes less and less
With the rat race of life and the constant demand on our schedules, physical intimacy can take a back seat. God created physical intimacy as a need and a holy pleasure … holding hands, frequent hugs, snuggling on the couch, and sex between a husband and wife are all beautiful pictures of physical intimacy.
When the physical aspects of marriage begin to become an after thought, the heart begins to harden.
4. Not really forgiving
We say we forgive, but in our heart we harbor our ill thoughts toward the perpetrator. We really don’t let go of the act that required the forgiveness. It can also reveal itself when we do not ask for forgiveness when we have hurt our spouse. Creating pain and hurt against our spouse and not recognizing the need to address it is a sign of heart hardening.
Unforgiveness is a breeding ground for heart hardening.
What's the Cure?
So what can we do? God has a plan. Throughout Scripture, God discusses the heart and what a healthy heart looks like. However, one simple verse packs a powerful punch.
Proverbs 4:23 says
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything flows from it.” NIV.
Another translation says, “Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flows the springs of life.” NASB.
Man, these 15 words are so powerful and can totally remove the potential of your heart hardening. Let’s break it down.
1) Watch your heart,
Guard your heart. It is a daily, if not hourly reminder. If God says to watch and guard our heart, it implies there is a real enemy wanting to “steal, kill, and destroy” our marriage. What are we watching and guarding? We guard our
- lustful eyes (be on watch to what you are watching),
- time with God (making regular, daily worship time with Jesus),
- attitudes (have accountability partners that keep us focused),
- alone time with our spouses (we create regular opportunities for alone time, conversation and intimacy).
Guard your heart.
2) Above all else, with diligence
It’s of the utmost importance. We must
- be persistent, regular, and intense about guarding our heart.
- understand it’s a marathon and not a sprint.
- be disciplined and understand it takes work and effort.
- being in God’s word.
- in praying together as spouses.
- about corporate worship.
- be diligent about plugging into a small group of believers.
- be diligent about serving together as husband and wife in the Kingdom’s work.
3) The Springs of Life!
The blessings are that if we guard our heart with diligence, there will be an overflow of God’s love, mercy and grace pouring out to our spouse, children, friends, and community. From the heart “flows the springs of life”. A heart that is truly in tune with Jesus and God’s will for our lives will produce that which our spouses and marriages need to grow and flourish.
Growth and a life that flourishes!
God desires our marriages to thrive, not just survive. He wants our hearts to trust Him and to follow Him. He longs for us to be watchful and be diligent. When we do, He will produce a marriage that flourishes, is a blessing to each other, and is a testimony to the world that He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
How about you, friend? What area spoke to you the most? What step or conversation do you want to incorporate into your marriage?
You can connect with Mike and Mitzi at www.mikeandmitzi.com and at https://www.facebook.com/Mikeandmitziministries
Mike & Mitzi have led small groups for nearly 20 years, marriage conferences for the last 5, and have mentored many couples one on one. Together, they have two grown children, Megan and Marshall, their son-in-law, Brooks, and their son's new fiance, Celene, who are a major part of their journey, story, and affections.
Follow By Faith She on Facebook here.
How to THRIVE in Your Marriage Vows Series - part 4
Disclaimer - Because of sin, there is serious dysfunction in some marriages today. This series does not mean to whitewash any problems inside of broken marriages. Instead, I desire to uncover the beauty of the vows thru a Biblical worldview and how they are meant to play out in a healthy marriage.
I’m not sure when it became so bad. But I distinctly remember the June day I flipped as never before, Dr. Jekyll turning into Mrs. Hyde.
I had miscarried our first child. I had to undergo a physically and emotionally traumatic D&C. And when we returned home, we discovered that our basement had flooded and many of the possessions in our basement were ruined. I was a wreck.
My husband put me on a lounge chair in the driveway and told me to rest as he cleared the basement of our possessions as well as the water. That act was one of many ways he cared for me “in sickness and in health.”
When we take our wedding vows, we promise to love and cherish our mate “in sickness and in health.” Most of us think of physical sickness when we hear this phrase. But because of the fall, there can be extreme emotions, attitudes, and behaviors that can negatively affect marital bliss.
Our story is more of the emotional side of sickness, of dark, dark days ruled by my erratic behavior and anger. I knew when I came to the line “in sickness and in health” in this wedding vows series that I needed to share my husband's story. He truly is the unsung hero of who I am today.
It's time we, as the church, recalibrate our thinking about "in sickness and in health." It is not just about physical health, but it also includes emotional and mental health. I would even go as far as to say emotional and mental health issues are more common today than physical health issues.
Brokenness may or may not have been present at the altar when we said, “I do.” Situations and circumstances can unfold causing us to wonder where is the person that we thought we married. In their place stands a stranger whose actions are not lining up with who we thought we committed our lives to on our wedding day.
What are we to do? Throw our hands up in despair and deem the situation hopeless? Absolutely not! Christ's death and resurrection promise hope and victory in these hard places! This is where our faith grows feet and takes steps we didn't think possible.
Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen;
it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.
I’m sure there were days my husband felt hopeless, but he didn't give up on me or our marriage. I'd like to introduce you to my husband, Remy. What follows is his story on how he chose to live Hebrews 11:1 in our “in sickness and in health” story.
3 Ways My Husband Chose to Walk by Faith in the Darkest of Days
What kept me from walking away from my wife during those hard times? I have to admit that during the dark times, it was not easy. I chose to focus on three things:
1. The Good Times
One of the things that kept me going was to focus on the good times between those dark times. The good times gave me hope and helped me push through the difficult periods.
"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." Romans 15:13
2. My Issues
Another aspect was knowing that I too had my own issues. This perspective gave me compassion for the struggles my wife was experiencing. My issues were not resolved in a day, and I knew that it would take time to work through our problems together.
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:32
3. My Commitment
Lastly, it was the commitment that I made when we got married. No matter how bad things became, the word divorce never came out of my mouth. It forced me to seek God’s help, to focus on working on our marriage, and not to give-up on it. It did not happen overnight, but each small step encouraged us to stay the course and see God do a work in both of our lives.
But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen you and guard you from the evil one.
2 Thessalonians 3:3
Why do I share my man’s choices on a blog for women?
Remy had no idea the depth of brokenness inside of me when he said, "I do." and vice versa. Though our circumstances may all be different, our choice as wives to stay committed needs to be the same. My friend, we need to stand by our vows "in sickness or in health", whether it's physical, emotional, or mental sickness.
Over time dealing with health issues in our spouse can be taxing. It can even strain our compassion for our spouse. In those times we need to press into our faith. Christ extended compassion to sinners like you and me. Since Christ has extended compassion to us, we can now extend compassion to others, including our spouse.
Luke 5 explains:
"But the Pharisees and their scribes complained to Jesus’ disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”
Jesus answered, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.
I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”
Whether or not you knew your spouse's physical, emotional, or mental health on your wedding day, you committed to who your spouse was as well as who he would be in all your tomorrows. You, my friend, can be faithful to love your "sick" spouse well, because God desires it of us and is faithful to empower us.
If you are currently in a valley with a sick spouse, humble yourself. Seek to love your spouse through Christ's strength. Press into your promise to love your spouse in sickness and in health.
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9
There are no guarantees your spouse will be well this side of glory, but the God of hope promises never to leave you or forsake you. He promises to complete the work in you that He started. He promises immeasurable growth in ways the world can't hold a light to. You. Can. Do. This.
Others are watching, dear one. Shine in the dark places. My husband and I are praying for you and cheering you on! May we all be found faithful thru the sick days and the well days to quietly live out a bold faith inside our own marriages to the glory of the Lord and for His Kingdom.
He will sustain you to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
God, who has called you into fellowship with His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.
1 Corinthians 1:8-9
How about you, my friend? What are some tips you have used to not grow weary in sickness in your own marriage? Do you have any words of encouragement for us? Perhaps you're in the thick of a tough situation. I'm sorry. I'd love to pray with you. Let me know. You are not alone. <3
I do? Who knew! Part 1
4 Ways to Heat Up Your Marriage - Part 2
You Want Me to Do What? - Part 3
Jesus Girl. Wife. Momma. Student. Teacher. Confidante. Lover of milky coffee, dark chocolate, lively laughter, deep talks and a front row seat on the beach at sunrise.
Cultivating a heart of faith begins at home. God has tucked a wonderful command to parents inside of Deuteronomy 6 and 11 in which He assigns the task of teaching children about Him to the parents.
So, how exactly do we help our children grow in their faith? How do we encourage the development of their relationship with Jesus Christ? How do we enable and motivate them to dive deeper into Scripture?
Many parents may not feel confident teaching these things because our own Biblical knowledge may be limited or our own relationship with Christ is underdeveloped. Or, we may simply lack the resources, ideas, and inspiration that can help us in this task. Whatever the case, if you feel your heart responding, "Yes! Yes! This is me! I want my children to know HIM more!" then you have come to the right place.
While there are many, many great tools for cultivating a growing faith inside your child's heart, listed below are the ones that I personally use in my own home that have proven effective for the faith-building task that I have been assigned:
1. Memory Verses. I often pray about and seek a verse that I feel will be especially helpful for the season of life that my children are in. Right now, our verses tend to emphasize the importance and weight of the words that we speak because loose lips and careless words are a parenting challenge that we have faced this school year. Since two of mine are mastering the art of cursive, I print out customizable cursive sheets here with a traceable verse. We also talk about the verse throughout the week, look up definitions and give illustrations if needed, and drill on occasion. Once this Word is hidden in their hearts, the Holy Spirit can use it throughout their entire life to teach, guide, and convict them. Psalm 119:11
2. Children’s Devotionals. A short, age-appropriate children's devotional is a great tool for helping children learn the stories, people, events, themes, and deeper meanings in Scripture. Our By Faith Kids Lord’s Prayer children’s devotional is a wonderful place to start.
3. Deep Talks at Bedtime. Nighttime is where children break down and process their thoughts from the day. It’s when their hearts are most wide-open. My children and I have the deepest theological conversations when snuggled up together in their twin-size beds.
4. Artwork. Sketching out or painting Bible verses or stories is a great way for kinesthetic or visual learners to engage with Scripture. When they were little, we would write verses on the sidewalk with chalk. Painting mini canvas magnets (Walmart), making bookmarks, and drawing pictures are current hits at our house. Scripture coloring pages are also very popular right now and can be found online or at Lifeway Bookstores. I always tuck a Scripture coloring book in my daughter's activity bag whenever we go on trips and I color along with her whenever time allows. This opens up beautiful conversation about the verse and what it means.
5. Lego Models. My boys are AVID Lego collectors! Sometimes they recreate Bible stories Lego-style and I love seeing their creativity! This is another great way to teach the Bible to your kinesthetic and visual learners!
6. Videos. Sometimes we just like to snuggle up and watch The Bible Project videos on YouTube or sing the Books of the Bible songs (this is how I learned my books of the Bible three years ago). Or, my children are even willing to listen to the YouVersion Bible app on audio at bedtime if it means they get 5 more minutes. We also watch Christian movies such as The Case for Christ (Netflix) or God's Not Dead and each one provides opportunities for great discussion afterward. These particular movies teach Christian apologetics to our children which is especially important as the need to defend their faith will one day come.
7. Fill Their Ears While Driving. With the exception of The Greatest Showman music (my girl’s current craze), we only listen to worship music in the car. For younger children, SEEDS Family Worship has a slew of songs that are straight up Scripture set to music that both children and adults can enjoy. Check out their YouTube videos here. Or, give podcasts, sermons, and audio books a try on longer car trips. You'll be surprised how intently your children will listen to them! My children don't make a peep when we have an audio book playing.
8. Bible and Faith-based Stories in the Bathroom. This sounds funny but it works! I have a child who can only read in the bathroom because it limits distractions. I got smart a few years ago and stocked it only with Bible stories such as The Action Bible and Answers in Genesis magazine. This child will stay in there for 30 or more minutes every day and pour over these books!
9. Celebrate Spiritual Birthdays. What is a spiritual birthday? It is the day of your child's salvation! I remember as a child (and into adulthood), I continually asked myself the common question, "Am I really saved?" We tend to celebrate these big days on the day of and then never look back. That shouldn't be so! By not looking back, we can forget the assurance and impact of this special day. I know some families who celebrate spiritual birthdays with ice cream, a special gift, a nice family dinner...just like a typical birthday celebration. In our home, I like to set reminders before our eyes. Each of my children have a picture of their baptism sitting in our living room. The looks on their faces tell us every single day that they were absolutely, positivity sure of their salvation on the day of their baptism. I also made monogrammed Bible covers with their birthdate, date of salvation, and date of baptism on it. I have also heard of parents having their children write a letter to themselves at the time of their salvation so they can capture how they felt in that moment and the sincerity of their decision. I wish I would have done this!
10. Pray Aloud Over Your Children. Praying aloud over your children, expressing thankfulness for God's goodness and protection, praising the Lord for a character trait that you see developing in them, interceding for their needs, and claiming His promises over them not only teaches your children how to pray, it also drives the words of their praying mama deep into their hearts. It speaks calm and assurance into their minds. It bathes them with feelings of security. It points them to God's activity in their lives over and over again. In addition to praying aloud, help your children keep a prayers/praises board, jar or journal.
11. Family Dinner Conversations. Family dinners around the table are sadly a long lost important time of the day. What rich opportunities for faith-filled conversations we miss out on when we don't make this a higher priority! One of my favorite quotes ever is from Mike Huckabee. He was interviewed once and the question was (I'm paraphrasing here), "What has been the biggest influence in your faith?" His response deeply convicted me. He said, "My faith has not been influenced by one big thing. Instead, it is the result of thousands upon thousands of family meals shared around the table." Wow. His deep faith was developed bit-by-bit, day-by-day, meal-by-meal, and conversation-by-conversation. THAT is the net result when we intentionally gather around the table, free from distractions, night after night after night. Isn't that worth all the cooking and dirty dishes? I think so!
12. Love Notes. I wrote about the importance of writing love notes to your children here.
13. Holiday Faith Focus. It's so easy to fall into the commercialism trap that comes with the holidays. I know that my family did this for years. Then, about four years ago, as I was staring at a Santa Claus decoration sitting right next to a stained glass nativity, the Lord deeply convicted me about the opportunity to focus on Him and only Him that we were missing out on. Since then, our home only reflects Jesus during the religious holidays. Yes, we still "do" Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. But, the focus is not on them nor do we decorate our home with them. Christmas is decorated with nativities and nature. Easter is decorated with crosses and nature. Yes, we have a couple of bunnies, but they look more like the bunnies that hop through our backyard every spring and less like the mythical bunny who fills Easter baskets. We also find ways to celebrate the true purpose of the holiday. At Christmastime, we have a Jesse Tree. On Valentine's Day, we celebrated with our first Jesus Loves Me party this year. For Easter, we celebrate with Resurrection Eggs hunts (I will do a how-to make these post with free printable sometime in March). Having our house decorated with Christ in mind keeps our focus on HIM and less on the other stuff. Kirkland's, Hobby Lobby, Lifeway, and online vendors such as Etsy make decorating a home that reflects Christ and affixes His Word before our eyes easier than ever.
14. Join a Christian-based Character Building Group. Check your local area for groups such as American Heritage Girls, Trail Life USA or church youth groups. This is a tremendously impactful way to grow your children in godly character as they come together with peers and leaders who share a Christian worldview and learn useful skills, form friendships, seek adventure, and grow together.
15. What the Bible Says About ___________ Sheets. As a child, I got into big trouble once and had to write the entire chapter of Psalm 119 as my punishment (FYI, it's the LONGEST chapter in the Bible). Since then, I cringe at the thought of having children write Scriptures as a form of punishment. So instead, I created a sheet that will guide them through a Bible story pertaining to that same sin or heart issue that we are dealing with. In a series of questions, they examine the story, the motive behind the sin, the consequence of the sin, and glean other valuable insights. By doing this, my children are able to personally relate with the people in the Bible and learn the application necessary for true heart change. Attached below is a sample sheet that you are welcome to use! You may need to help younger children with it.
16. Build Mentor Relationships. Connect your children with trusted Christian men and women who can help grow them in certain areas. This is especially effective if your son/daughter does not have a male/female role model in their life, needs to learn a certain skill, or can grow in their character under the influence of someone. This can be a much older person like an adult or a slightly older peer whom they look up to. I personally love for my daughter to hang out with the daughers of the other three By Faith She girls because their girls possess the godly character that I hope my daughter will have in just a few short years when she reaches their age.
17. Mission Trips. Each year we look for an opportunity to plug our children into mission work. We take an annual Family Mission Trip with our church in which we help with property upkeep at any of the Baptist Homes for Kids in our state followed by a time of fellowship with the children who live there. And, a big milestone in our house is that when our children enter into their teen years, they get to go on their first foreign mission trip. My oldest got to experience his first trip this summer when he went to Kenya with his dad. This 12-day trip changed my boy! It grew him spiritually and matured him in ways that only God can do!
18. Claim Scripture For Them on Every Birthday. This is a way to indirectly impact your children as they grow in their faith. On their birthdays, I consider the season that each child is in and thoughtfully choose a verse for them. I share this verse with them and pray it often in my prayers for them. In addition, I have also chosen a family verse for this year: Psalm 128:1-4. It has already been a great guide for keeping my heart and my thoughts Scripturally aligned as I pray for our family.
19. Let Them See You Read Your Bible (often). The one thing that I encourage moms to do above all else is to let your children see you read your Bible. Even if the house isn’t quiet and dishes are stacked up in the sink, take 10 minutes and read the Bible while your children are present. Model for them what reading the Bible looks like. You’ll be surprised how quickly they catch it! My life has been in the pit at times, wayward at others, and always in need of guidance. Knowing that my own mother has stayed connected to the Lord through His Word and prayer throughout my life has been a lifeline for me to hang onto during each and every step. She has always been steady for me and it's because I know WHO her anchor is by the spiritual disciplines that I have watched her faithfully carry out.
20. Read Parenting by Paul David Tripp. All I can say about this book is that it is life-changing! It is transforming! It is the book that I needed 10 years ago!! I am almost done reading it for the second time. This time I have met with a group of mamas every other week, taking one chapter at a time, for the entire school year. I already have plans to reread it a third time so that my husband and I can do it together. It has changed the way that I view and approach parenting moments. It is having a profound impact on me and thus on my children.
There are so many wonderful tools available to help us encourage our little kids grow a big faith. The message that I hope that you will receive today is that our children are ready for more and they need us to show them what more looks like. Hand them engaging materials to learn God’s Word. Practice spiritual disciplines in front of them. Carve out quality time to converse with them. Whatever you do, keep the conversation going and going and going. Pointing them to Christ every single day is our highest and greatest calling. It is an important and ongoing task that should start and end at home.
Want to WIN a copy of Parenting by Paul David Tripp? Yes, you do!! We are giving a copy away to one of our readers! To enter, simply like our Facebook page and share this post! Comment to let us know when you are done! Drawing will be held Sunday, February 25 on our Facebook page.
First, I am a child of God. And, like a child, I am always learning and growing. The more I know Him, the more I love Him. Second, I am a wife to a good man. Missions is his thing while teaching women to love God’s Word is mine. Third, I am a mama to three plus a sweet cockapoo who thinks he’s #4. My children are my ongoing sanctification. Fourth, I am a passionate advocate of all things healthy & natural and a dreamer/designer. Old friends call me Becky, newer ones call me Rebecca, and the most intimate ones call me Beck. You can just call me friend.
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Disclaimer: I am not a counselor and I do not have any professional advice to give. This isn’t the first or probably the last article you will read on this topic either. My intentions are to be vulnerable on an issue that is stealing our marriages, our kids and our friendships. I am just a Christian woman that wants to rescue my family from an evil world and I hope to do so by opening God’s Word and through my actions that I live out daily in my home.
My name is Laura and I spend entirely too much time on my smartphone. Ugh...I have never been to a counseling session, but this sure feels like one! There it is...true transparency! It’s something that I’m sure not proud of. I recently sat through a session on technology and the impact it has on our kids, and also just the other night had a conversation with another family about “screen time”. In both instances, I left feeling completely convicted because I know, the problem begins with me! Out of everyone in my home, I am the worst one about spending time on my phone (and my three year old runs a close second).
I don’t have to tell you that our world is getting scarier everyday. You can turn on the news or read the headlines and see for yourself. So, it got me thinking, how are we failing this generation? How can we take back what Satan is stealing from us, one marriage or one kid at a time? How do we change the trajectory?
Studies have shown that the biggest difference in our society today versus five plus years ago is “screen time”. Whether it be t.v., video games, social media or surfing the web, we are the most connected we have ever been and also the loneliest. It’s affecting our social skills, emotions, moods and functionality.
USA Today released a study that was performed by researchers from San Diego and Florida State universities. They discovered that nearly half of the teens that received five or more hours of screen time each day had experienced thoughts of suicide or prolonged periods of hopelessness or sadness. That is extremely scary for me and makes me want to make a change!
I am guilty of appeasing my three year old with his iPad or turning on a movie so I can get some things done. Just last week I wrote about being up to my elbows in chocolate and strawberries. Guess what my boy was doing the majority of the time...watching lots of PJ Masks and Dude Perfect! That’s not normal days in our house, but it sure does happen. Thankfully, my soon to be ten year old is not consumed by a device and I know changes need to be made now so she doesn’t fall prey to what so many of us already have.
I am going to let you inside of my head these past few days (that may be scary! LOL) on steps I want to take in my home to begin to overcome this epidemic. I am including scripture that I can claim and even write out so I can see it on a daily basis.
Hebrews 4:12 “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”
2 Timothy 3:16-17 “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.”
Ephesians 5:15-17 “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”
Psalm 39: 4-5 “O Lord, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am! Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before you. Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath! Selah”
1 Chronicles 16:11 “Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually!”
The truth is, my kids will mimic what they see me doing. More than anything, I want them to give God their first and their best, to practice good time management and to be present in the moment. So, it begins with me...I set the example. I would like to challenge you to do these things this week and see if the dynamics in your home change.
Today’s post is basically an open journal into something I struggle with, but I am certain I am not the only one! I would love for you to take the challenge and post how your household adapts to the changes. I don’t want my husband or my kids to say that mom’s most prized possession was her cell phone and I am guessing you don’t want that. I don’t want my kids to think having a device in their face is the norm either. Let’s be different, let’s be intentional. We don’t know what tomorrow holds and we sure don’t want to say we spent more time interested in others lives than the very people that we live under roof with.
Laura is a pastor's wife, mom to two crazy fun kids, part-time marketing director, loves hanging out in her community and building relationships...oh and loves to laugh!
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Recently Mrs. Jackie, a trusted mentor and the former women’s director at our church came and encouraged the By Faith She Girls, as we met to plan. She made several wonderful points, but one really stood out to me. She said, “There are no shortcuts in our spiritual walk.”
As she began to explain, I thought through all of the “shortcuts” I’ve wanted and tried to take in my spiritual life over the years.
I remember being a young believer, and hearing others talk about how the Lord spoke to them, or how they knew exactly what God was calling them to do. I can remember talking with friends and mentors who knew Gods Word well and spoke about it with passion. I remember wanting these things for myself, and wondering if I was doing something wrong.
I tried many different ways to get what they had. I did love Jesus and wanted to know Him more. I would pray for the same knowledge that these people had. I desired to hear God’s voice and know what He was calling me to do. I would go to Bible conferences in hopes I would learn the big secret to being a “Super Christian”. I even thought maybe the latest Bible study would have the answers. I truly expected that these things would just happen over night. But they didn’t.
It reminds me of something that I did in high school. I had a final exam coming up, and although I had studied, there was so much information to know that I didn’t think there was any way to remember it all. Somehow I heard about learning by osmosis, (a fictional theory for sure). But I was desperate to know the information as quick and as easy as I could. So for several nights before the test, as I went to bed, I would push play on my tape recorder where I had recorded myself reading all of the test study guide in hopes that as I slept, the information would somehow find its way into my brain. I’m a little embarrassed to say that this is a true story.
I was trying to take a shortcut for my final exam as well as in my walk with the Lord. There wasn’t anything wrong with me praying for Biblical knowledge, or going to conferences or doing Bible studies... These were all tools to help me grow. But it’s a process. One that can’t be rushed. The Lord uses situations and experiences over time to grow you and to build your faith. It also takes time and dedication to grow in knowledge of Him, His word and His will.
I’ve also learned there is no such thing as a “Super Christian”. Yes, the Lord uses each of us in different ways and has different assignments for everyone. But, we are all just regular ordinary people. It’s up to each of us how strongly we will pursue knowing Him.
The four By Faith She Girls are just that, your everyday ordinary girls. There is nothing special about us. We haven’t learned Greek or Hebrew. We aren’t Bible scholars. None of us have been to seminary. But we all have one thing in common. Over many years, we have pursued Knowing the Lord. We have pursued Knowing His Word. And we have even learned, that when we press hard into Him, and pay attention, we can hear His voice. The reason we write each week is to show you how regular girls can walk with Jesus. Not perfectly. Not even close. But step by step, we learn and we grow!
Jeremiah 29:12-14a says
“Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord...!
I want to encourage you today to pursue The Lord, and continue pursuing Him. You may not see the growth today or even tomorrow, but as time goes by, as you experience walking with Him, as your faith in Him builds, You will begin to recognize His voice and His work in your life and it will be amazing!
OnePlace app - Audra's pick
This free app includes a list of well-known Bible teachers. I can go here and pick out messages on just about any topic or Scripture that I’m studying. From Kay Arthur to Charles Stanley and from James Dobson to Focus on the Family, it’s a great place to find many inspiring messages from trusted voices.
D6 Family - Laura's pick
A friend of my husband’s started an organization called Parent Ministry and this same friend now does a podcast for D6 Family. After serving in student ministry for 14 years and becoming parents ourselves, we knew the importance of investing inside the home. Taken from Deuteronomy 6:4-7, D6 is a movement intentional about empowering parents, homes, marriages, leaders, and churches to live out the story of Deuteronomy 6. This Scripture paints a beautiful picture for the family and of God’s heart for discipleship at home. The family is God’s original small group. D6 provides resources to align the church and home to accomplish God’s design of generational discipleship.
Living Proof with Beth Moore - Rebecca's pick
This isn't exactly a podcast but rather a recording of Beth's messages at her Living Proof Live events. Beth always lights my fire and her passion for the Lord and His Holy Scriptures has been a heavy influence in my life. My favorite time to listen is when I'm prepping dinner. It makes the time go by faster and the job more enjoyable (since cooking just isn't my thing). And, I had the joy of attending her Christmas session Yet For Love's Sake when she recorded it at our church. Dream come true!
Dr. Caroline Leaf - Tammy's pick
If you know my story, you'll know I suffered from bouts of debilitating depression. It affected everything, my job, my marriage, my parenting, and my friendships. At the age of 40, I had enough. I told God I would do whatever it took to turn this "Titanic of a person" around. I dove into Scripture and radically applied its principles. And by the grace of God, it worked.
This summer, Rebecca introduced me to Dr. Caroline Leaf. I was fascinated with her explanations of what went on in my brain during my transformation. She's a firm believer that when we apply God's Word, we can rewire our brain and our outcome. An added plus, she speaks with a cool accent. Enjoy!
God Centered Mom - Molly’s pick
My ultimate go-to podcast is God Centered Mom by Heather MacFadyen. I have listened to it for 3 years and have never finished a podcast without being both encouraged and challenged, whether it be in my parenting, my marriage, or my own walk with the Lord. Heather has fantastic (and many well known) guests that are knowledgeable about a variety of topics. She and her guests do not talk surface-level Christianity. They go deep into how to be God-centered in everything we do as moms. She has a great website at godcenteredmom.com where you can find resources, show notes, and connect with other moms.
Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father. There is no shadow of turning with Thee. Thou changest not, Thy compassions they fail not. As Thou hast been, Thou forever will be.
This is the song I had been singing as a lullaby to my 18 month old for weeks. The Lord was preparing my heart and I didn’t even know he was doing it.
On January 12, 2015, only a few weeks after finding out I was pregnant with Baby #2, I had a miscarriage. My husband and I had been so excited. And even though he was too young to understand, we told Carter he was going to be a big brother. I wondered why God would let this happen, and yet at the same time, in my desperation, I asked God to help me not grow bitter towards Him. I remember singing to Carter Great is Thy Faithfulness that night through tears. I knew His word said He was faithful, but I was so hurt. And I didn’t know how I could rest in His faithfulness when I felt so hopeless.
I have not been a consistent journaler throughout my life, but I have had seasons of habitual journaling. This happened to be a time in my life where I was journaling every day. I am so glad that I have that to look back on. I can see my struggles and I can see where God rescued me from my sorrow. This is my journal entry 6 days after we lost our baby:
"I am so happy we went to church this morning. I was reminded of something very true: God is worthy to be praised no matter my situation. I will praise His name when he has delivered me from despair, but also when I am in the midst of it. I went into church expecting something to be said or sung to help me in the midst of my sadness. But, I learned to praise God for being God. And, in return, that paradigm shift helped to start heal my broken heart. I think God and I will go to deeper places together this year."
And we did. On April 12, exactly 3-months after my miscarriage, we surprisingly found out that I was pregnant again! Fear came in like a rushing wave, but God was steady. I was so afraid that I would lose that baby too, but I constantly heard the gentle whisper of the Lord…”Peace, be still.”
We had a baby boy due on December 20. But in the Lord’s perfect timing, Mason David Smith was born 8 days early, on December 12. I had my miscarriage on January 12, I found out I was pregnant again on April 12, and I delivered a healthy baby boy on December 12. I love symbolism and the meaning behind numbers. When I looked up the Hebrew meaning behind the number 12, I learned that it meant “completion.” Sometimes we joke and say that must mean we are not supposed to have any more children…but I think the Lord was teaching me something else.
The Lord always redeems and restores His people. He gave me the number 12 to show me that He brought “completion” or “restoration” into my life and He did it through a new life. He ultimately restores all of us through new life...the new life that is found in His Son. That is the greatest redemption story of all time. When it comes to our personal situations, restoration may come in different ways. But, He does restore, because that is WHO HE IS. In the Old Testament we read about the Temple being destroyed and the Israelites going into captivity. It was 70 years before they were released and able to build the temple once again. There were probably few left who even remembered the destruction. God brought restoration and he did it on His perfect timeline. When the Fall came in the Garden of Eden, it was centuries before the Messiah came to redeem not only his people, the Israelites, but the whole world.
God sees the bigger picture of our lives. We can’t see past our present circumstance. God showed me that He is a God who restores. He brings fulfillment. He brings completion. Romans 8:28 says, And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. If you are a daughter of God, then you HAVE been called according to His purpose, and He WILL RESTORE whatever hard circumstance you are in.
I felt the Lord give me the name “Selah” for the baby we lost. Selah means to “stop and reflect.” There are days that I still cry over the pain caused by losing a baby. If you have had a miscarriage, you know the pain. But, when my heart and mind are thinking about the baby, I always feel the Lord, every steady, ever sure. And I stop and reflect on the beauty of His restoration.
For we are glad when we are weak and you are strong. Your restoration is what we pray for.
2 Corinthians 13:9
Molly Smith is the Worship Arts Academy Director at Fellowship Bible Church in Jackson, TN. She has two fun-loving and active boys ages 2 (Mason) and 4 (Carter). She and her husband Chance, the master coder, will be married for 7 years this May. She is passionate about teaching kids about the Lord through music and developing in them a heart of worship.